The long and winding road


During the last two weeks, the international scenario seemed to change abruptly, shifting our attention from Paris to Brussels, from Syria to Turkey, from migration to terrorism concerns.

In Brussels, the “motionless” days of the lockdown, with deserted streets in a heavily militarized city, have by now given way to the familiar, hectic pace that characterizes the life of the European capital. Likewise, European institutions are trying to adjust their response to the evolving challenges.

The new priorities on the agenda are certainly reflected on the EU budget for the next year, adopted at the last Plenary session of the Parliament on November 25th, after the formal endorsement given by the Council.

The efforts to address the refugee crisis resulted into a commitment of €4 billion for emergency assistance and humanitarian aid that will help Member States and third countries from which refugees come from. On this regard, the decision to set up a Refugee Facility mechanism with Turkey has been reached during the bilateral Summit held in Brussels on 29 November. The EU will provide an initial €3 billion euro of additional resources to help Turkey to cope with the high numbers of refugees currently in the country. From its side, and starting from June 2016, Turkey committed to take back those migrants who are not in need of international protection, and who came to the EU through its territory.

By the end of the month, the Commission is expected to present a text reviewing the overall mandate of Frontex, while an ad-hoc resettlement scheme will be discussed during the Summit of the 28 EU leaders scheduled for 17-18 December.

In the wake of Paris events, the debate on information sharing and coordination in Europe is thus once again in the spotlight, as the same President Juncker confirmed by stating the necessity of an European register of travelers.

The Passenger Name Record (PNR) has regained its spot on the Parliamentary agenda since February this year, when the revised bill has been submitted by the rapporteur MEP Kirkhope (UK). The first draft of the text, which dates back to 2011, was rejected on 2013 out of concerns for fundamental rights data protection.

A new proposal of Directive on Terrorism adopted by the Commission on 2 December will further tackle with criminal enforcement gaps now existing in the EU legal framework.

Finally, additional capacities for the fight against crime and terrorism will come from the Internal Security Fund (ISF), designed promote the implementation of the Internal Security Strategy, law enforcement cooperation and the management of the Union’s external borders. The next year’s budget for this expenditure increased by 64.0% in commitments and 46.7% in payments compared to 2015.

Is this the genuine common European response we are all expecting from our institutions? Or will the good intentions be lost on the long and winding road of the EU bureaucracy, as the vicissitudes of the PNR proposal already showed?

Samantha Bruno
Editorial team – NEU

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